Originally written February 16, 2012 on Fox Sports:
In the age of the overproduction of sports and of stage-managed "moments," rarely does a connection between an athlete and his fans feel authentic. Sure, fans "know" their favorite athletes: what their mansions look like, which starlets they date, what they say on Twitter. But these sort of athlete-fan interactions seem tested before focus groups, directed by teams of public-relations consultants rather than inspired by authenticity. That was not the case Wednesday night at the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 1, when local boy Jake Ellenberger came out from the bowels of the aging Omaha Civic Auditorium. As his walkout song played -- "Coming Home," of course, by Diddy-Dirty Money -- the adoring Cornhuskers who packed this venue erupted. This was the city where Ellenberger grew up, the place he returned to in 2005 as a US Marine Corps veteran, and the place where he now was an assistant wrestling coach for University of Nebraska-Omaha, which had won three ...
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